Posted on October 17, 2007 Posted by John Scalzi 42 Comments
Not too long before the 2004 election, I decided to stop reading political blogs entirely, because basically they were making me antsy and irritated, and also I noticed that if I wrote about politics here after reading a stretch of polibloggers, I ended up really screedy, and not in the good “hey this is amusing, come look” way, but in that bad “what this person really needs is a hooka and a footrub, or a maybe a hard blow to the head” sort of way.
This time around, it’s 13 months before the election, and I’ve decided to stop reading political blogs, now, because as far as I can see they’re pretty much already at the screedtastic level we were in 2004 when I decided to shove off. Honestly, I can’t even imagine what they’ll be like next summer. I’m not sure I want to know. It’s not to say I won’t keep informed with politics, of course, or even that I won’t pop into a poliblog from time to time, since they get linked to at the places I read. But as for regular, daily reading, which is what I’ve been doing, well, not so much.
Incidentally, this cessation of poliblog reading does not mean I won’t be writing about politics here. Oh, my, no. But I do want to make sure that in the cases where I am genuinely screedy about something, it’s coming from me and not because I’ve just read 20 blogs in a row where the authors are convinced the apocalypse is coming right this very second unless their party/candidate/political philosophy prevails in every single instance. Damn it, I want to own my political screediness, not just have it as the result of a contact high.
Now I suppose the question is what I’ll replace all those poliblogs with on my reading list. I suppose I could just use that time to write more, but that seems unlikely. Maybe I’ll start reading knitting blogs. I hear they’re good. No, really. Crafts are fun, as long as I don’t have to do them. Anyway, I’m open to suggestion.
Read “A Treatise of Human Nature”, by David Hume. No, it’s not particularly fun, and no, he’s not outrageously insightful, but holy LORD will it take forever. It’s like “Moby Dick” plus “A Tale of Two Cities” times “Linux System Programming”. And then throw in a metric sh*t-ton of commas.
Or if you don’t want to do anything that improves your brain, spend your time at Kitten War!
Oh, I know all about Kitten War. I lost all of October 2006 to it.
I stopped reading political blogs when I finally realized that lefty blogs and righty blogs were just advocating competing versions of dystopia.
If you’re serious about that knitting blog thing, check out the Yarn Harlot, who is absolutely hysterical.
You’re stronger than I am. I’ve been avoiding political blogs since the Iraq war started. The news itself is bad enough. I don’t need people convincing me things are bad.
And if you want a good knitting blog, I highly recommend The Panopticon (http://the-panopticon.blogspot.com) If you want to know why I started reading it, begin here
And as an antidote to accidentally reading political screed, I highly recommend Stuff on my Cat it’s kinda like Cute Overload, only with better titles and it’s all cats.
*resists the urge to self-promote*
Can I recommend The Land of Bad Decisions? It’s a compilation of short (~100-200 word) fiction with the theme ‘bad decisions.’ The author invites other people to pitch in, but most of the stories so far have been his. He’s got kind of a surreal sense of humor that makes most of his work pretty damn funny. One of its stories, “Foreign Lands,” was recently featured on the local radio.
I still read Wonkette once in a while, as it makes me LOL.
Mostly I agree, political blogs are a waste of time.
Actually, the best proof that the Apocalypse is coming is the link you provided: http://www.lolcatbible.com/index.php?title=Main_Page
It’s better proof, and far more amusing than political blogs. :D
Man, I’m ahead of you. I never read many pol blogs, but I’ve gotten to the point where I’m starting over blog-wise and this new blog will have NO politics OR tech in it, the two things that pull my pin and make me explode.
Damn the candidates and their policies. Everyone should simply obey me anyway. Ha!
Noted the lolcat bible over there in the Whateverettes. Mmmm… fuzzy apocalypse.
So does Pandagon count as a political blog or an identity blog in your reading diet?
Go for a long walk with your wife and daughter.
You should try Guitar Hero … Duh.
What’s happening in 2008 that would have the poliblogs chirping?
There’s already a noise in the background that says the Republicans are expecting to lose the White House in 2008, so they are beginning to jockey for positioning for 2012. It wouldn’t matter the party — I say anyone thinking about running for 2012 is kidding themselves. Because otherwise, we’ll start seeing pre-declaration stump speeches in February 2008… Oh wait. We probably will.
Get a jump on the NEXT election — stop reading poliblogs for the next five years… take the pledge now, people!
Deconstructionist theorizing here: *Why* can’t the parties hold reasoned rational discourse anymore?
Theory 1) Nobody is taught rules of logic or understands or cares about reasoned discourse, therefore whoever screams the loudest, longest or is the most vindictive, spiteful, or hurtful wins by default as everybody else walks away. These appear to be the new rules of “debate.”
Theory 2) It involves effort to get people to listen to a position and more effort to sway them to a different position. Most people don’t want to make that kind of “effort” even when it only involves brain-power and a few extra keystrokes. That’s a sad state of affairs, but it leads to the grenade-in-the-shorts snips, snipes and swoops that we see today. Again, people tend to walk away.
Theory 3) It’s too easy to walk away. Staying and hashing out a topic because it needs to be done is not adopted nearly often enough. When 55 men from wildly different walks of life from states which were separated by many days’ ride met in Philadelphia in 1787, they did so because it had to be done. When consensus has been gathered on issues in the nation’s past, it was done because it had to be done. Now… force has taken the place of reason and fair play. Taxation is enforced. A draft might be enforced. Adherence to an overwhelming number of laws and regulations is backed up by force, so the only debate is how such force should be used and by whom. Nobody is arguing that it should be abolished, that no man has the right to tell another how to live, or making any other serious argument for change. They want to… walk away.
Theory 5) Aristotle was right. Two thousand years ago, Aristotle explained his observations about why democracies fail in The Politics. In a nutshell, it’s precisely because people do walk away. Talented, motivated, energetic achievers look at a situation, realize there’s no gain or return on the massive investment necessary to try to correct the problems, so they walk away. They take their wealth, their insights, their techological prowess, their dynamism, and they go somewhere else. Aristotle also observed that the departure of such individuals from the society caused the society to weaken and fail, or exacerbated the failing condition, and that once a certain level of failure occurred, civil war ensued. Upon the conclusion of the civil war, usually financed by the expatriates, the talented and successful people would come back. With a clean house, clear skies and their accumulated capital, they rapidly re-established a flourishing society.
So who’s up for traveling, and to where?
Or try Franklin Habit’s knitblog at http://the-panopticon.blogspot.com/ . I read a bunch of them for a while; this is the one that stuck. Meet his roommate Dolores, the ewe with an attitude (she set up a revue and took it on the road, accompanied by Harry the yarn ball and a troupe of others).
Food/cooking/restaurant blogs get you a lot of passion and snark for your reading pleasure, but don’t get me riled up the way political blogs do.
Why don’t you try reading Aussie political blogs? Our poltiics are different to yours, we’ve got the most exciting election in 35 years AND the whole thing will be over by December.
Digressing, but to me “Blogcutting” sounds like some sort of cyberspace version of Self Injury problem.
Personally I’ve been reading legal blogs. Instead of political blogs. Gets you angry in an entirely different way.
Is it rude to mention that my post from 1:45 is still in the moderation queue?
I mention it because now someone else has mentioned Panopticon, and now I’m not the cool kid who did it first. :)
Good thing blogcutting wasn’t followed by blog-lemon juice and blog salt-scrub.
About the only good I see of it all is that the left is no longer just rolling over and taking it. Not that screeding at each other contributes to an actual dialog that advances the culture or nation.
As for distraction to fill the time, I’m sure PNH and BIll over at Subterranean might have some iders about how to fill that time. Or, you know, you could start working on your toasting and mad ninja skills.
Blogcutting will leave you more time to visit the Creation Museum.
Patrick M.: What’s happening in 2008 that would have the poliblogs chirping?
Wow, you weren’t kidding when you said you knew nothing about politics!
Try those SciFi author blogs. I hear they’re really great! Whatever happened to that list…….?
Try food pr0n. The intarwebs are rife with it. There’s a reader’s digest of online food pr0n at:
“Abandon all diets ye who enter here.”
Not associated with that site in any way, merely a food fetishist.
Books. Yeah, they’re so retro that they’re in danger of becoming trendy again, but books can be your friends. Sturgeon’s Law notwithstanding, the average quality of writing for the dead-tree market tends to be slightly higher — and the mean time to knee-jerk reactionism greater — than the corresponding parameters demonstrated in the instant-ventilation domain of the online scattershot screedist, if for no better reason that the higher break-in cost of writing, getting published, and getting people to buy a book vs. browse the [eio]pinion of the day/hour/minute.
[Which is why some of us drift about the fringes of blogs written by, you know, actual authors… ]
Should the recently-posted stack of books not be enough to tide you over the self-imposed derth of poliblogs, your readers may^H^H^Hwill have plenty of suggestions for other works to fill the idle moments.
If all else fails, try reading excerpts from the Congressional record;
the material may have its faults, but most of it (barring proposed legislation) will have been talked to death by the time it appears in the record.
Besides, didn’t you recently mention something about a book revision due in the near future?
Well, instead of politics, there’s science:
Or science occasionally mixed with art and popcult references:
Or there’s always straight-up art blogs:
(Aaaaaand I’m tired.)
Go cry, emo-blog.
Apparently I’m not the only knitter who also reads this blog; I was also going to suggest the Yarn Harlot. =)
I’m surprised at how many “crafty” people do read here, actually. I think it’s pretty cool. I’m awful at that sort of thing myself, and admire the people who have the skill and patience for it.
@32 – It’s a fine way to procrastinate writing the Great American Novel.
Another knitter/fiber crafty person here to third Yarn Harlot, second The Panopitcon especially since Dolores (the ewe) has a stalker now. Who? Ann Coulter. That’s right.
And last but not least Crazy Aunt Purl. Not so much about knitting, but she makes me laugh every day. Worth a check into.
Oh – one more. Knit and tonic. She is really insighful and snarky. Fun to read.
No worries John. We’ll get the Scalzi family knitting in spite of your failed attempts before Athena was born (yeah – long time reader here)
Maybe we’ll get lucky, and some of these political bloggers will die of apoplectic fits right after the New Hampshire primaries.
Can I get a hookah and a footrub? Please? Wait, I sell hookahs, associated tobaccos and whatnot. Where’s the line for a footrub?
Blogcutting sounds so emo.
Try Dark Roasted Blend. Almost 100% apolitical, and it’s full of cool stuff.
As for the level of screed in today’s politics, do a little research on the American political scene in the 1800s. Our screedery is actually pretty tame; the difference is that it is instant and ubiquitious. And too blinking early.
Oh, I know it’s not the worst it’s ever been. That said, being hip-deep in shit is in many ways much the same as being chest deep in shit, if you know what I mean.
I occasionally wonder if the difference in violent crime rates in the US and Canada can be explained by the different dynamics of federal elections: In Canada, at worst we’re looking at six weeks of political campaigns. In the US, it used to be a full year but now it’s more like two. In Canada, for some reason negative campaigning goes over badly . In the US, it’s a useful tool. Could the barrage of negative ads for years at a time have an effect? Only research involving the annexation by Canada of large portions of the US will tell.
1: I had completely forgotten that John Tory (actual name: he didn’t alter it to win the leadership), who recently led the Ontario Tories to defeat in a provincial election, also was involved in the decision to run an ad widely perceived as mocking Jean “Le Strangler” Chretien for his speech impediment (caused by Bell’s Palsy). In that context, sinking the Tory campaign with one proposal is in character.